Goodbye and Thanks to Rosemarie, June 24, 2020

There was much banter and some fresh faces in the June 24 meeting. We were happy to welcome back Doug Freeth from sweltering Arizona. John Ackenhusen joined us from Washington State.  Yolanda Whiten joined in the gaiety, remarking that Doug looks just the same was when she first met and worked with him. Joe Fitzsimmons told Bob Buchanan to move his camera just a touch to the right so he could see Joe and Beth’s house.

President Rosemarie rang the bell to bring the meeting to order.  Executive Director Lori Walters gave the Zoom etiquette tips.  She also urged us to reach out to members we haven’t seen on Zoom, as well as guests and prospective members, to share the Zoom experience.  This is a good recruiting tool to help get our membership replenished with new and enthusiastic people.

Tom Strode played America the Beautiful and some of us warbled along.

Dennis Powers’ Inspiration focused on the importance of the arts.  He quoted Kamand Kojouri  who was born in Tehran, raised in Dubai and Toronto, and currently teaches creative writing seminars as a doctoral candidate at Swansea University in Wales. She has observed the importance of the arts in our common life: “Art doesn’t give rise to anything in us that isn’t already there. It simply stirs our curious consciousness and sparks a fire that illuminates who we have always wanted to be.”  Be it the performing arts, cinema, or street performance art, our experience of the arts leads us to a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. The arts enrich and deepen our lives. “Logic will get you from A to B,” Albert Einstein famously said. “Imagination will take you everywhere.”

John Ackenhusen took over the singing.  He played a clip of Rotarians singing The Happy Wanderer.  The group is the IFRM Rotary Virtual World Choir (IFRM stands for International Fellowship of Rotarian Musicians). There were smiles and giggles all the way around. John sent a link to four or five pieces that the group put together that are being presented (virtually) at the Rotary International (virtual) Convention in Honolulu this week.  The singers come from all corners of the globe, a truly international choir.

President Rosemarie announced birthdays.  She also shared the happy news that Dave and Joan Anderson are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.  President Rosemarie encouraged us all to log into the Rotary International Convention.  During the General Sessions you can watch inspiring speakers, panelists, videos, and entertainment and witness the power of Rotary connections.  During the Featured Breakouts you can connect with the family of Rotary to discover inventive ways to engage, increase our ability to adapt, and learn new skills that will strengthen our club and community.  These videos will continue into July to help us start the Rotary year off right.
Norman Herbert filled our screen with an Emeritus presentation for Dick Elwell.  Dick had a 40 year career working in human relations, with emphasis on the health care industry.  He worked for Ford, then an accounting firm.  He met his sweetheart Lynn when they were in 6th and 7th grade. They were married in 1962.  They lived in Wisconsin a while but Dick was too lonesome for Michigan football … and hockey … and basketball … etc.  He missed football so much that he rented an airplane,  leveled off 8000 feet in Wisconsin skies, and circled so he could pick up the radio broadcast of a game. Dick participated in sports in high school and college and is still an adventurer.  He and Lynn are sailors, scuba divers and zip liners.  They have traveled the world, visiting 107 countries on all seven continents. They have one daughter and one granddaughter.
Dick and Lynn moved back to Adrian in 1980 and Dick started Elwell and Associates. Successful from the start, the firm became a global presence in recruiting and human resources consulting. Still not close enough to the action, they moved to Ann Arbor in 1988.  Dick transferred to our club.  He spearheaded the founding and chartering of the Interact Clubs at Huron and Pioneer High schools. He has been captain and spiritual leader of the bowling team for 21 years, bringing the Club several championships and one HUGE trophy.  He has been a generous contributor to our Club and Rotary International.  Virtual applause showered congratulations on Dick for Emeritus status.
Norman’s full presentation to Dick can be found here.
Notes from the Program:
Mike Michelon, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, addressed us on how the Summer Festival is coping with the pandemic.  He recognized the arts as an expression of community, and that all organizations are struggling and learning.  Problems within organizations and among relationships that predate this epidemic are now visible.  This is true of all arts organizations across the country as Mike learned in New York in January when he attended a conference that emphasized risk and resilience in the organizations.  The Summer Festival, founded in 1984, has undertaken a brand overhaul and revised its strategic plan, struggling to accept and weather this situation.
One of the problems revolved around avoiding duplicating the offerings of other arts programs. The Festival echoed the Top of the Park with interactive offerings like Kooky Kreatures, a community coloring book, and uploading Quarantine Confessions submitted by individuals into a community journal.  The Festival also recognized how its community obligations interfaced with its resources.  Some of the innovations of this summer will become permanent.  Some Top of Park presentations may be streamed again in future years.  Tiny Tops – 20 minute pop up performances at different locations within 15 miles of town brought the Festival to neighborhoods and provided the artists with their regular fees. They organized Music Hikes and Story Walks specific to local trails, geo-tagging content as participants walked along.  These things are under consideration for the coming years.
What’s next for the Festival?  They are thinking about perhaps becoming a producer as well as a presenter.  The 2021 season will be a hybrid, continuing the ticketed performances and Top of the Park, plus the pop-up events in parks and more interactive events and content delivered electronically.  Revenue sustainability will continue to be an imperative.  Plans are being made now for the season, so watch for announcements.
President Rosemarie asked the questions Members submitted via Chat. and thanked Mike for his presentations.  Then she said goodbye as President as she will pass on the ‘lovely’ shirt to Incoming President Joanne Pierson next week.  She said being President of Ann Arbor Rotary was an honor, and she appreciated this opportunity to serve.  Everyone in the Club sends thanks to Rosemarie for calm, effective and visionary leadership through a very difficult year.